He Wahī Paʻakai: A Package of Salt

adding flavor and texture to your world through story


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Lost in Wellington

Welly

Sunrise, Te Whanganui a Tara

Lost in Wellington
            for my love of Te Whanganui a Tara

It’s quite insidious
if you think about it.

Give them names to speak
over and over again
for direction
With no alternatives
they’ll be forced
to reinforce
one story

Slowly your mouth
finds comfort around names
that may have cut
in earlier times

You release a tiny breath
for Wakefield,
Your tongue hits the roof of your mouth
for Tory
Your purse your lips slightly
for Cuba
You enjoy the swift flick
of Lambton
And the wave-like motion
of Oriental

Names slide slick off your palate
and with every mention
you forget what they used to taste like

As early as 1825,
pushed by group of white men
like John George Lambton,
an expedition was launched
with sights on
New Zealand

William Wakefield
arrived in 1839
on a ship named Tory
with the intent
to purchase land,
all part of his brother’s
“colonisation plan”

In time, settlers
came by the thousands,
aboard huge ships,
like Cuba and Oriental
with the New Zealand Company
promising land
they had no right to
promise

These are the names
we say everyday
with ease
while ancient names,
names with stories,
and genealogies
tied to this place
get erased,
replaced,
and sometimes
butchered beyond recognition

I walk down city streets,
a bitter taste in my mouth,
wanting to spit names
on the footpath,
wanting to resist
being forced
to recount one story
day after day
while so many others
lay waiting
to ease off my tongue,
to be pursed between my lips,
to find comfort in my mouth

I feel lost in Wellington,
a place named for a Duke
famed for winning a battle
that was not fought
here

But I suppose getting lost is easy
when the names you’re
forced to utter
are not the same names
you want to follow

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